Your Name: Shingi Munyeza
Company/ Name of Business: African Sun Limited
What do you do [profession]? Group Chief Executive
What was the first job you ever had? Working in my father’s grocery store in Magaba, Mbare, Harare.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a bus driver, mainly because I grew I always admired how the bus drivers took people from one place to another with such commitment and passion.
What inspired you to start your business or pursue the career you followed? The love for God and the need to realize my potential and finally my destiny.
How did you get started with your company or profession? I started off in accountancy then marketing, then into hospitality.
How did you finance your business and what was the process like? I bought into African Sun and now the largest shareholder. This was done through a leveraged by out through financial institutions.
How many employees do you have? Full- or part-time? OR How many people do you manage in your position? The entire organization has just over 3000 employees.
What is an average workday like for you? Hectic but fulfilling.
What are the most crucial things you have done to grow your business?Growing the business into the African continent …………
What plans do you have for expansion? We have a pipeline of about 5000 rooms throughout Africa which needs capital to unlock.
Best advice I ever received is? Business is a marathon race rather than a sprint race.
What’s the worst business advice you’ve ever received? If it is not broken do not fix it – This advice went against the grain of technological advancement!
What one piece of advice would you offer entrepreneurs starting out today?Start where you are with what you have and with who you are with.
Favorite part of your job? Strategic thinking, planning and execution.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced? Moving from hyperinflation into multi-currency economy.
In the face of adversity, how do you decide to keep going? Keep to your values and keep your relationships close.
If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be? Nothing really because I am fully exercised in every aspect of my life with still lots to learn.
Tell us about one person that you admire? Jesus Christ
If you could have dinner with any three people, who would you choose? Jack Welsch, Nelson Mandela and Billy Graham.
Tell us 1 company that you admire? Apple – because of its desire to always be on the cutting edge of technology.
One person who most influenced your life? My father
Who is the most famous person you’ve ever met? Richard Quest
What sacrifices on your personal life did you have to make in order to be where you are today? It has all about delayed gratification on most aspects of life.
What is one of your favorite quotes? Leaving the world a much better place than I found it.
One person I would like to meet is? Barack Obama.
What was your best business decision? To invest in African Sun when everyone was saying tourism is doomed.
What was your worst business decision? To be part of a consortium of people with different and opposing values.
What is your vision for your company? To be the benchmark on hospitality management on the African continent
One teacher I remember, and why? Sr Rosina Spanninger, she believed that I had unique leadership qualities which I was not aware of.
One most valuable work lesson, thus far? Never to be emotionally attached to assets but to be passionate about value.
One thing I look for the most in a new recruit? Attitude to life in general.
If you could write a book about anything, what would it be? Leaving a lasting legacy.
One thought from a book I am currently reading? The easy day was yesterday.
One tip for time management? Spend more time on things you are good at.
One signal that tells me there is a problem? I feel it in my spirit.
One technique for handling anger? Back-off for a while and stick to the issues rather than the people involved.
One way that I use for resolving conflicts? Listen more than you talk.
One favorite activity when traveling? Reading.
One dream I would like to chase, later in life is? Working in developing younger leaders in communities
How do you de-stress? Play golf and spending time with my inner circle of relationships.
Can you state the outlook of your industry in a line? Phenomenal potential
The most underrated activity in business is? Spending time with floor level staff
In 5 years I hope to be? Influencing leaders at a pan-African level
What do you consider to be the 2 main keys of your success? Humility and dignity
What philanthropic activities are you involved in as a way to give back to the less fortunate? Bursaries to school children at all levels.
Name 1 thing you are an expert in? Bringing people from different and opposing backgrounds.
What is the most pivotal moment in your entire life and what did you learn from this moment? Leaving the village due to the war of liberation in the 1970s, I learnt that the world is bigger than what I see.
If you had only one year to live, what would you work towards? I would continue with what I am doing.
What would you like people to say about you after you die? He left the world a better place.
What do you enjoy most about your life right now? Seeing people grow and communities being transformed.
What do you dislike most? The waiting game when things are not moving.
What activities are you passionate about? Nurturing young leaders where I am.
What makes a good home life? Trust and love
Name 1 lesson you would teach your children? The world does not owe you anything.
What was your biggest failure, and what did u learn from it? Closing down of our hotels in South Africa after the 2010 World Cup. I learnt that when you catch a crocodile whilst fishing, cut the fishing line!
What book has had the biggest impact on you? The Bible
Name 1 regret you have: Not having made the most during the difficult times of my life.
Are you a collector of anything? Yes, pens and koy fish
Have any hidden talents? I’m not aware
Which is your most favorite place in this earth? Troutbek, Nyanga, Zimbabwe
What is the craziest thing you have ever done? Bungee jumping in Victoria Falls, twice!
What is your idea of fun? If given a choice to skip work for a day, how would you spend the entire day? Gardening and playing golf.
What is your taste in music?Gospel
Who would you consider to be your hero? Jesus
What is your favorite daily ritual? Reading the Bible and praying
If given a complete freedom to start afresh, what profession would you choose and why? I would go into media, that’s where much of the influence happens.
Some of African Sun Hotels controlled by Shingi are Crowne Plaza Hotel Harare and Troutbeck Inn Resort, Nyanga.
Besides his strong Christian beliefs and a desire to work with people from all walks of life, leading hotelier and businessman Dr Shingi Munyeza considers himself as a bridge for transformation and aspires to work to bring change to people’s lives.
To the uninitiated he is viewed as one of those high class executives who never have time to interact with those considered to be in the lower echelons of his presumed social class, but not so for the down to earth visionary who has been at the helm of one of the country’s leading hotel groups.
“I want to be a bridge for transformation, to be a stepping stone for change even if eventually I do not benefit personally.
“I am not so much driven by personal benefit but by the outcome of change. I do not necessarily look for reciprocity for my actions but I am more driven by a God given mandate,” he said in a recent interview.
Looking back on over three decades of serving God, Dr Munyeza (48), a senior pastor with Faith Ministries, said this has built his character and the way he views life driven by his upbringing, convictions and values.
Dr Munyeza, or simply Doc as he is referred to by his work colleagues, business associates and congregation, is the chief executive of African Sun Hotels group whose footprint spreads across the African continent.
He has the utmost respect for his spiritual mentor Bishop Ngwiza Mnkandla whom he credits for building his Christian values. The church has 46 congregations nationwide.
He is married to Wilmour and the couple has an 18-year-old daughter Nomsa who is now in college.
Doc has been very vocal on issues surrounding nation building and was part of the business delegation that went to Europe lobbying for re-engagement with the Government in the wake of over a decade of illegal economic sanctions that were weighing down development in the country.
“I am happy that some results are coming but I would advocate for the complete removal of all hindrances between the EU and Zimbabwe and move away from the stand offs. We would like to begin on a completely new slate. If the gesture is genuine, one would ask, ‘Why are you holding my father hostage?’” he asked in reference to the bloc’s continued sanctions on President Mugabe and the First Family.
He was optimistic that the future was bright for Zimbabwe and this required all nationals to play their part as each one had a role to play as the country was endowed with vast natural resources.
“We are not a nation that is going nowhere, no. I am convinced that something great is about to happen but we need to shake off that negative sentiment about Zimbabwe and build on that national spirit of knowing that we have a destiny to fill. It’s not left to an individual; we must arise and do what has to be done and we all know what’s right and what’s wrong.”
Asked to comment on the presumed link between Christianity and most successful businessmen, Dr Munyeza said: “In the past Christianity was associated with poverty and you would actually go to church to be helped financially.
“But now things have changed and if you go to the scriptures, John 10 verse 10 reads: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”
The verse has been used as a description of the Christian life, the normative pattern of life that Christians can expect because of God’s blessings. Dr Munyeza said that the focus and outcomes of Christianity should be anchored on faith and the relationship with God and now with a lot of awareness of what the gospel can do, the results were amazing. He added that a number of the esteemed successful businesspeople found favour and purpose in what the gospel says.
Growing up in a rural setting, Dr Munyeza said that he had to pay for his tertiary education before enrolling with Ernst and Young where he did his articles but was soon to leave and enter divergent fields like marketing and advertising.
He said that he had a passion to be with people and he was missing that link in accounting and that was the reason why he left and joined the service sector and hence his landing in the hospitality industry. His open door policy has been extended to the extent that guests at all the resorts run by African Sun can place a direct call to him.
The growth of African Sun that runs 13 hotels and resorts in Zimbabwe under Dr Munyeza’s leadership is manifested in the 2 500 people under the organisation’s payroll across the continent, including some countries where the company has management agreements.
Recent developments have seen advisory firm Brainworks buying into African Sun in a move designed to inject fresh capital and retire legacy debts weighing down the organisation.
Dr Munyeza, an entrepreneur at heart, was upbeat that the company has now turned the corner and returned to a profitable position.
He was quick however to state that he still drives the vision of the hotel group and as they were jointly the majority shareholders with Brainworks, there was no turning back in the quest to be the leading hotel group not only in Zimbabwe, but Africa as a whole.
Asked if he harboured any political ambitions, Dr Munyeza said: “It is important one fundamentally understands when you are in politics you are working in a volatile environment. I think that I play a political role whether I am in church, corporate and whatever I do but I must say that I am consumed with what I am doing right now to even consider political office.
“I work closely with my leadership team at African Sun where I give direction, lead, direct and I monitor.”
Dr Munyeza is active in a number of forums and has been working hard to promote tourism and other related economic activities in the country. He is also a keen golfer who finds time to play at least once a week.
As for his family, the oratorical Doc said he makes an effort to be home by 6pm and in considering what to do he said that he considers the benefit and immediately makes a decision whether or not to pursue it.